By Amit Agarwal
After keeping it in “open” beta for about a year, Microsoft launched Windows 8 simultaneously around the world last Friday. If you are in India, you can head over to windows.co.in to upgrade your computer to the new Windows 8.
Microsoft has adopted uniform pricing for Windows 8 and there aren’t any complex upgrade paths. Any computer running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 is eligible for the upgrade for a standard fee of 1,999 rupees ($37). It is a digital download but if your Internet connection isn’t up to the mark, you can always order the upgrade on a DVD for an additional fee.
Windows 8 for PCs is available in two flavors – the standard edition and Windows 8 Pro (short for Professional.) If you decide to upgrade your computer before Jan. 31, you will get the Pro edition which offers some additional security-related features. For instance, it includes BitLocker, a feature that lets you encrypt and password-protect files on your physical drives, including removable disks (like USB sticks.)
Perhaps surprisingly, none of the Windows 8 editions include software to playback DVDs. Microsoft decided to remove DVD playback support from Windows 8 to bring down the cost of the operating system as it needs to pay royalties, including for codecs. Still, you can download any of the free DVD players from the web or there’s a better way – go here, enter you email address and Microsoft will send you a license for Windows 8 Media Center. That’s the software you need to play DVDs. It isn’t included by default but you can always add it separately.
Windows 8 desktops and laptops have already hit the retail shelves in India but if you are planning to build your own PC from scratch, you can buy a full copy of Windows 8 for 11,999 rupees from stores. The one available on the Microsoft website is the upgrade license applicable only for PCs that already have Windows. Microsoft India also says that PCs purchased pre-installed with Windows 8 Pro will have the option to downgrade either to Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business. After having used Windows 8 for several months now, I see no reason to perform the downgrade but you always have a choice.
Windows 8 is different to previous versions and it does involve a little learning curve (for example, the Start Screen replaces the Start button that most Windows users are so familiar with.) The built-in help center (press F1 to activate) has guides to get you started, or you can visit the online help center for video tutorials.
When you upgrade to Windows 8, the existing files and documents on your computer will be preserved. Even the printers, routers and other hardware devices attached to your computer should work without issues (see compatibility guide.) However, you will have to re-install all your software programs if you are moving from XP or Windows Vista to Windows 8 (Windows 7 users are lucky here.)
Windows 8 is the first version of Windows that ships with an anti-virus and anti-malware software called Windows Defender. You also have an option install any third-party anti-virus product.
One more thing: Microsoft doesn’t offer a trial version of Windows 8 Pro edition, but if you are willing to experiment with the new OS first, it does have a 90-day developer edition that anyone can use to evaluate Windows 8 before making the switch.
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